Who is Erriyon Knighton- USA’s Olympic Sensation That Beat Usain Bolt’s Record?

Published 12/29/2021, 3:20 PM EST
Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Athletics – Men’s 200m – Semifinal – Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – August 3, 2021. Erriyon Knighton of the United States in action REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel

When Usain Bolt set the 200-meter record during the 2009 Berlin World Championships, many thought it would never be broken. However, things have started to change. American teenager, Erriyon Knighton, burst onto the scene after he beat Bolt’s 200-meter Under 18 record in June 2021. The 17-year-old sprinter ran the race of his life as he broke Bolt’s record to take the spotlight.


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Moreover, incredible performances in the US trials for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics earned him a flight to Tokyo. However, where did the budding star start his career?


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Meet Erriyon Knighton!

During the American Track League meet in Jacksonville, Florida, he clocked 20.11 seconds to set the track on fire, breaking broke Bolt’s 20.13 record that was set in 2003. His biggest breakthrough came when team USA conducted the trials for Tokyo 2020. Beating the favorite Noah Lyles in the preliminary and semifinal heats, Knighton surprised all.

Next, he competed in the 200-meters competition in Tokyo and finished fourth in the race. Canada’s Andre De Grasse got the gold medal while Lyles finished ahead of Knighton in fourth.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Athletics – Men’s 200m – Semifinal – Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – August 3, 2021. Erriyon Knighton of the United States reacts after crossing the line to finish first in Heat 1 REUTERS/Phil Noble

The highlight of this story is how he set the time of 19.84 in the race. He ran amongst many greats but stood firm to rise above all. Hence, the 17-year-old is currently the favorite to break Bolt’s record.


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A late start, similar to Bolt

Like the talented sprinter Usain Bolt, Knighton started late in athletics as well. Bolt was an ardent cricket fan who loved to play the game as well. However, his coach saw his potential and suggested he try his luck in athletics. The rest, as they say, is history.

Notably, Knighton is on the same path as well. The youngster did not take part in athletics until his freshman year at Hillsborough High School, in Tampa, Florida. Soon after, the talented sprinter improved his times and landed a deal with Adidas, where he was just 17-years-old. Knighton continues to impress his peers and at this rate, the sky is the limit.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Athletics – Men’s 200m – Semifinal – Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – August 3, 2021. Erriyon Knighton of the United States and Rasheed Dwyer of Jamaica in action during the Semifinal 1 REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

Bolt would be wary of his world records, which were once deemed to be untouchable. Knighton has all it takes to become the best in the business because of the skill level he possesses. Surely, the 2024 Paris Olympics would be his target now. Reaching 19.19 is not a straightforward task. The onus is on Erriyon Knighton to work harder and reach those unprecedented heights.

Other medal hopes for Team USA in the future


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After Jamaica dominated the sprinting scenario for a long time, Team USA is producing new talents to enter the athletics scenario. In the women’s competition, Athing Mu produced an astonishing performance in the 800-meters at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to win the gold medal.

Just 19-years-old, she is the favorite to dominate the track competitions for a long time. Rai Benjamin is also coming to the forefront, as well as is Grant Holloway. Hurdles specialist Sydney McLaughlin won two gold medals in Tokyo, despite being just 22.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Athletics – Men’s 100m – Final – OLS – Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – August 1, 2021. Fred Kerley of the United States after winning silver REUTERS/Andrew Boyers

Fred Kerley is another talented athlete who is the favorite to win the gold medal at the next Olympic Games. Moreover, he can make history by winning gold in each of the three major tracks competitions (100, 200, 400). Thus, the future is in safe hands as Team USA is producing some stellar talents to end Jamaica’s dominance in athletics.


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Jacob Gijy

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Jacob Gijy is a US Sports and NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Gijy finished his Masters in Counselling Psychology and worked in a hospital for 2 years before his passion for sports compelled him to find his way to sports journalism. A fan of the great Tim Duncan, he is always ready to pick up a debate with anyone who does not offer the center the respect he deserves.